What Makes a 5W Member?
A woman who is curious about the world, wants to share experiences, learn about other cultures, make new friends and have fun!
5W is open to any woman over the age of 18 and the current membership demonstrates the inclusiveness and diversity of this unique organisation. We have members of all ages, from different backgrounds and cultures, but all with a common interest in expanding their worlds – whether through travel, correspondence or meeting new 5W friends in their local area.
That is the 5W ethos and the stories from our members sum up how this works for them.
It’s just over a year since I joined and I wanted to share how 5W has helped me move forward with my life.
2020 – 2021 was very tough. In addition to lockdown I faced the breakdown of my 37 year old marriage. Through the dark days I slowly began to look forward and asked “Who am I? What would I really like to do?” Now that travelling in retirement with my ex-husband was no longer part of my vision how could I contemplate travel? I was afraid to travel alone, I didn’t know where to start.
You will recall no one was travelling at that time, so being a coach I asked myself what one thing could I do to get closer to my goal? It was that day whilst googling “travelling alone as a female” I tripped across 5W. Joining was a huge step for me. Mid 2021 I was very vulnerable (in the midst of a very acrimonious divorce) and yet I knew I needed to take steps to find the new me. I began to read stories of amazing trips women older than me had undertaken together. For a while I did no more than read and enjoy the tales of past trips and soak up the feeling of friendship, support and kindnessIt was around this time an email popped into my in box that exploded my vision of what was possible with 5W and made me realise what a special group I had joined. It was wonderful being in a virtual room with women around the world and somehow made travel feel more possible. On that call I found myself in a series of breakout rooms with inspiring women. I also learnt all about hosting and immediately after the call got on the website and realised how much more there was to 5W than I had realised. A trip to Washington to stay with my daughter allowed me to test it out. When I saw a 5W member lived nearby, I emailed her and we arranged to have tea together. In addition to being a fascinating afternoon, she helped me see the possibilities 5W could bring. Shortly after an email arrived from a member travelling from Australia and wondering if she could stay. Having promised myself I wouldn’t say no to anything, I said yes! We had a lovely few days, and I’ve since watched her walk along the Camino trail with great interest. I will definitely be hosting again and who knows may even follow her along the Camino.
Around the same time I also tried to purchase, unsuccessfully (the joys of IT) a 3 moth interrail ticket. Feeling disempowered I reached out to the FB group and received so much support.
I did it! Travelled independently. I found my way on trains and metro, sorted out accommodation, and had so much fun. It was a bit scary, but people helped me everywhere. I also learnt so much. I had too much luggage and need to check out how many stairs up to the accommodation (150 was just about manageable!). I definitely want to be able to speak a smattering of the language confidently, so – I’m learning Italian. So 5W this is really just to say a huge thank you for inspiring me and giving me the confidence to take my first steps. If you’re out there wondering if you can take the first step you can, with the help of this amazing group anything is possible, just do it.
Canada you’re next on my list!
Moira, Tasmania, Australia
Travelling with my aunt, who is also a 5W trustee in Australia, I had the wonderful privilege of meeting the trustees of 5W as they gathered for their Annual Trustees’ Meeting in Hasselt Belgium. My interactions with this wonderful group of women occurred after their meetings, being invited to join them for breakfast and dinner each day.
I was absolutely inspired by this group with their knowledge and traveling experiences, that if combined would result in circumnavigating the globe a dozen times and more.
These women inspired me and taught me that age is a number, adventure never dies, they can dance the feet off anyone half their ages and “if you can’t travel the world, then bring the world to you”.
This is an amazing not for profit organization and if the trustees are an indicator of other members, they are a group that welcomes all and are happy to share their homes and culture with you.
My membership is on the way and I am registering as a day hostess to share Tasmania with others. If you have heard of 5W and have hesitated about joining; hesitate no more as the world is waiting for you.
Carol, British Columbia, Canada
I’m done. I officially retired this year, after a lifetime of teaching. My goal this year is to fully explore 5W and be comfortable with taking advantage of all that it offers. I am seeing it as a lifeline for me at this point. I love to travel but have been held back by working full time and not having people to travel with. I dealt with the former by retiring; I am hoping 5W helps me to solve the latter.
I joined 5W a few years ago and have read the newsletters faithfully. This spring, when I knew I would have more time on my hands, I made a pact with myself to embrace this organization and jump in. Since then, I have met up with numerous members of our local Vancouver group for walks, lunches, potlucks, fireworks, and informational sessions about travel possibilities. I have had my first 5W guest in my home – from Germany. She truly inspired me and I thank her for the patience in answering my multitude of questions about just how it is done.
I am about to embark on my first solo trip – for five weeks – to Europe. It is made so much easier by leaning on 5W members for advice and places to stay. During my time overseas I am already:
- staying at the home of a member in London when I arrive. She is helping me with train tickets and significantly easing my mind about the initial few days
- attending the Gathering near Hull for 8 nights with 25 other 5W members from around the world
- spending two weeks with my daughter, who is flying over to meet me. During this time we decided on a place in Southern France, thanks to messaging a 5W member who lives in the area (this was done at
6am her time, while she was packing for a two month wander in Canada!) and talking with Vancouver members who know France well. These women have been invaluable to me in adding to my comfort level about travelling. Our second week is in Paris, again thanks to another 5W member (who it turns out lives very close to me). We have emailed, Skyped and actually met and shared stories, to the point that we are well on the way to becoming good friends. The three of us will meet briefly in Paris next month.
- when my daughter leaves I have nothing planned. Again, a first for me! I hope to meet up with more members – maybe back in Britain or who knows? Perhaps an interesting possibility will come up at the Gathering.
My goal for this trip is to fully experience the opportunities available by being a member of 5W. I think I will pretty well have it covered. For me, this trip is all about the journey, not the destination. I wish you all happy and safe travels,
Pauline, Canterbury, Kent, UK
Women Welcome Women World Wide, My Life – now with Disabilities
In 1987 I met an Australian lady at top of a mountain in Boulder, Colorado. We were actually visiting a mutual friend and she told me about this wonderful organisation, Women Welcome Women, as she had been a member from its beginnings. She came to Canterbury three times during the next few years, telling me constantly to join. In 1993 I decided I would think about it, joined and read my Newsletter eagerly for two years, dreaming of travel.
What an organisation to join. As I retired in 1995, well this was time for my first big adventure, a five day Gathering around Port Macquarie, with my husband and daughter.
After my first trip to Australia, I had the travel bug! As many international Gatherings also welcomed husbands, over the next few years we had many little trips, including an amazing Gathering in South Africa. For my next adventure I was planning a trip to New Zealand, originally for 25, but had 40 members eager to come.
By 2008, as I was suffering more severe back pain, I began to need a wheelchair, but this didn’t stop me travelling. I took my own scooter on the plane to Chicago for another Gathering and this gave me so much independence to travel around. I have since travelled to Berlin for 5W’s 30th Anniversary celebrations and to Belgium, as well as meeting up with visitors to the UK Last year we did a big trip, to Seattle, Portland in Oregon, then drove North to Vancouver, where we met up for wonderful day with the local 5W group. Of course, visitors are always welcome too. As a member in Nelson, New Zealand once said, “ I can’t travel myself now, but we love having visitors!!” Happy Travels to all our wonderful members, yes have courage and just go!!!
In 1998 having retired from local government I visited an Independent Travel Exhibition and among the leaflets I collected was one from Women Welcome Worldwide. Reading it I realised that as a widow by joining the organisation I would be able to live my dream and travel the world, so with no hesitation I joined. My next task with help from the 5W members I contacted I set about arranging my first trip to Australia. To say it was fantastic is an understatement, the warmth of hospitality I received was unbelievable. Returning home to North Wales I decided I had to return to see more of the country. My granddaughter Danelle was then 17 and living with me whilst she attended college before going on to university to study Dram and Dance. She was due to go on holiday to Spain with a student friend in 1999 but her friend changed her mind. Danelle asked me if she could come to Australia with me, I agreed but asked her could she afford it. No problem she said I’ll work extra hours at MacDonald’s where she had a part time job. We started this trip in the Northern Territory travelled overland to Mount Isa to stay with a member who had two teenage daughters, we were there when the second largest rodeo after Calgary was taking place. Then onto to Cairns before finally ending the trip in Melbourne.
On our return home she told me that she’d fallen in love with Australia and the opportunities that were there for young people so once she graduated from University that was were she was going to live. That is exactly what she did, making her home in Melbourne and 10 years ago she also became an Australian citizen, holding a joint UK & Australian passport.
The day that I picked up the leaflet in Manchester was for me better than winning the lottery. There are members who I met, yes just a few left now, who are still friends and the delight in hosting travelling members both in North Wales and here in Spain plus organising the Hidden Gems of Andalusia Gathering have enhanced my life considerably.